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Megans Cookin: December 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This Cake Isnt Winning Any Prize!.

But I sure love it!

I entered this in the local YMCA dessert contest. And it lost out to a Kahlua cake.

This cake was inspired by Garrett of Vanillagarlic. He made a chipolte cinnamon cupcake and I have been in love with the flavor combo ever since. Ive a made a savory tri-tip and a sweet truffle using these flavors. And now its my *new* favorite cake.

Its made with a cake mix but I added 1 teaspoon chipotle powder and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Then I frost it with cinnamon buttercream and a glaze of chocolate ganache. To decorate, I made a chocolate disk and used a chocolate transfer on top. I tried to use a snowflake design transfer sheet right on the ganache but it didn't work at all! It just got all sticky on the transfer sheet and didn't transfer ;(

Anyway, my favorite cake made an appearance at my Christmas dinner. There were lots of oohs and aah and "what is in this cake?" It was a hit at Christmas but its not winning any prizes. It lost to a Kahlua cake! And the humiliating thing- there were only 2 cakes!

I think the judges had to much Kahlua!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

I'm A Winner and You Can Be Too!

I Won!!! I Won!!! I Won!!!
Remember not long ago I told you my friends think I'm lucky? Is it really luck, or is it the pure persistance I have to joining in on a contest? Well, I Won!!!
Marye from Baking Delights had
the contest I told you about. I didnt see any of your names in the comment section. Well I did see April there. And she won a pound of coffee!
Remember the secret? You have to play to win.
I played, I Won!!! Guess I'm just lucky!
So I'm gonna tell you. Here's your last chance to get in on the final week of Kettle and Cups grand opening contest. Just go on over to Kettle and Cup and check it out . There is a great grand prize involved. Lets just say its Oprah style. It also involves a pound of her special roast coffee. I really want that coffee! Maybe April will send me a cup.It would go so well with my new cookbook! I'm off to Kettle and Cups. See ya there!


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Buche de Noel

Its that time of year again when I make my annual Buche De Noel. Also known as a Yule Log. Whatever you call it, Its Christmas to me. But this year, there's a new recipe in town. The Daring Bakers Challenge is a yule log. The recipe was picked by our hostesses Lis and Ivonne.

We have a little bit of freedom with the recipe.
We can flavor the cake with any flavor as long as we use the original recipe.
I chose chocolate!
We may also fill it with anything we want.
I choose coffee cream filling!
We must use mushrooms to decorate, whether meringue or marzipan.
I choose almond flavored meringue!

So lets get started, shall we?
I made the mushrooms first. I always feel better if I can get those out of the way. I just put the cap and stems, unassembled in Tupperware till I'm ready for them. Now, I'm ahead of the game. At least in my mind!
Next came the cake. It always seems intimidating whenever I see eggs over hot water and heat till warm, but all went well. I added a big spoonful of unsweetened cocoa into the flour mixture but wasn't sure how much to add without drying the cake out. I was Conservative! I also rolled my warm cake in a dish towel covered in powdered sugar to cool. Once cooled, I wrapped it in cling wrap. That way, I could finish the next day. I usually always make the cake over a two day period. That way, I can fill and frost it the day I serve it. So far, Success is knocking at my door

Now comes the filling. Easy peasy! Just whip up some heavy cream with instant coffee crystals and powdered sugar till stiff. Unroll the cooled cake and gently spread cream evenly over the surface. Reroll cake.

If it breaks a little, don't stress! Once you put the frosting on, its glued back together. No one will ever know and you look good
The buttercream. I've never made a buttercream like this. Again, there is that putting eggs over hot water again. I guess sometimes you just have to look fear in the face and laugh. Hope I'm laughing after I finish this buttercream.

A few people have had problems at this stage of the game. If you let the eggs cool to much before adding the butter, it can curdle.

A.O.K. Everything went fine with the buttercream. Ya Whooo!!!
Home run for the ball team. Score!

Now for the funnest part. Frosting and decorating. I always cut a little bit of my Christmas tree in the back where no one will notice. I use these few branches to decorate. They also help nestle the mushrooms and keep them upright. A bird and a sprinkle of snow (powdered sugar) finish off my Christmas yule log.

Sources: Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert

Plain Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarch
one 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again
1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.
3.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch).
4.Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.
5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.
6.Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.
7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly

Coffee Cream Filling


1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon instant coffee

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Beat till stiff with an electric mixer at medium speed

Coffee Buttercream:

4 large egg whites

1 cup sugar

24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder

2 tablespoons rum or brandy

1.Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot. 2.Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.

Meringue Mushrooms

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

2/3cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate pieces

Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

1.Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip.

In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks.

2.Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa.

3.Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50-55 minutes.

4.male a small hole in the underside of each cap. Add a dab of the melted chocolate and press the stem into the hole. Let stand till chocolate is set.

5.Garnish your Yule Log with the mushrooms.

For folks who have half sheet pans (12 x 17) instead of jelly roll pans (10 x 15) like me, I adjust recipes by multiplying by 4/3--this works out well for the provided recipe

4 eggs

4 yolks

pinch of salt

1cup sugar

1 cup flour or flour and cornstarch mixture

for the buttercream

6 whites

1 pound butter

1 1/3 cups sugar

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Chocolate Peppermint Truffle

I'm wrapping up this truffle series with the peppermint truffle.

Two trys later and I'm happy with it.

Chocolate Peppermint Truffles
The first try: I thought I would be clever and buy those green mint chips. Add butter and cream and let set up. Well, these ugly green blogs didn't set up. Not even over night in the freezer. And the color! I couldnt get pass that green.
So, I dumped out all the blobs and started over with semi-sweet chocolate. Added my butter and cream, a little peppermint extract and everybody was dancing the happy dance.

Much better.
What was I thinking?
No more green chips for me!

I got all my little boxes in a row.

They didnt hold as many as I would of liked them to.

But all in all, I think my Truffles are pretty and they are a labor of love.
Which goes hand in hand with Christmas.
Merry Christmas!
Chocolate Peppermint Truffles

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate

1/2 cup butter

1 cup heavey cream

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Melt chocolate butter and cream in microwave. Stir to blend. Add extract. Let sit in fridge for 2 hours. Roll into balls

Dip in melted dark chocolate.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tippsey Eggnog Truffles: Part Three

If you love nutmeg, You'll love this sweet morsel. Again this recipe came from my friend April. She was nice enough to tell me the truffle recipes she had from Chocolatier. When she said Eggnog, I knew I had to try it. And I'm glad I did. This one is a winner!
This recipe was a little more intimidating then the others. When I read it through, the "Be sure not to over-mix, or filling will break and take on a grainy appearance and texture." scared me. So I did exactly what they said, and all was well! The white chocolate ganache behaved better then my dark chocolate. Different texture and it didn't melt in my hands when I rolled them. It was very nice to work with.
These truffles called for both Rum and Bourbon. But you couldn't taste the booze. There wasn't that much in them.

Look at the cute music notes on the truffles. If you haven't guessed by now, I used chocolate transfers again. I think these will make a couple of music teacher I know, very happy this Christmas.

Eggnog Truffles
Chocolatier Magazine
7 Tbsp heavy cream
1 whole nutmeg, cut in half and then quartered
14 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp bourbon
1 1/2 tsp rum
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Pour heavy cream into stainless steel or non reactive saucepan. Add quartered half of nutmeg, reserving other half for future use. Place pan over medium heat and bring cream to scalding point. Allow nutmeg to steep in cream about 30 minutes. Place white chocolate in bowl that fits double boiler. Position bowl over barely simmering water in double boiler. Stir regularly over very low heat until completely melted, and then remove bowl from double boiler. Take care to apply heat no longer than necessary. Gently reheat cream to scalding point. To remove nutmeg and any skin that may have formed, strain hot cream through sieve directly onto melted chocolate. Immediately add bourbon, rum and grated nutmeg,without stirring. Once all ingredients are added, gently stir until cream and flavorings are evenly incorporated and mixture is smooth. Be sure not to over-mix, or filling will break and take on a grainy appearance and texture. Turn filling into small bowl, cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate several hours or overnight, until mixture is very firm.

Dip in white chocolate.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Chocolate Chipotly Cinnamon Truffle: Part Two

Today's inspiration came from a candy bar.

A Vosges Red Fire Exotic Candy Bar.
The texture of the chocolate on the palate, the evolution of flavors in the mouth. In what order do they reveal themselves to you? Sweet cacao, fruity and acidic with spice rounding out the finish. Watch how the chili warms you after you have swallowed.

I just wanted to just buy the candy bars and melt them down for the middle of the truffle. .
But at $7.00 a pop, I had to come up with an alternative. So I made my own. I first added 1/2 a teaspoon chipotly chili powder to my chocolate mixture. Do you know how scary that was? I didn't want to ruin my beautiful ganache. But it actually needed more! I ended up using 3/4 teaspoon of both cinnamon and chipotly powder. Next time I'll go for a whole teaspoon of both.

I let the chocolate mixture set in the fridge for a couple of hours but it was still really soft. It was a mess rolling them into balls but that wasn't surprising. Next time I will roll them and then let them sit in the fridge overnight before dipping.
Again because I used chocolate transfer sheets, I had to flatten the tops. They melted a bit when I dipped them.
They turned out a little bit to big and were a little sloppy looking. They didn't fit in my little paper cups very good so I think I'll have to make a second batch. The flavor you ask? I am soo happy with the results! The sweet chocolate with a hint of the spicy cinnamon and the heat of the chili's. These would go excellent with a glass of red wine.
Edit: Typing out the recipe, I realized I only used 4 tablespoons of butter. No wonder my ganache was so soft. I'm off to make that second batch. Correctly this time!

For the Ganache Filling:
12 oz. good-quality bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz. (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon chipotly chili powder

Melt chocolate, butter, and cream in the microwave. Stir till smooth. Add cinnamon and chipotly powder. cool. Refrigerate till firm enough to roll into balls. Dip in melted chocolate

For the Dipping:
2 lb. good-quality bittersweet chocolate



Sunday, December 16, 2007

Coconut Truffles: Part One

Coconut truffles! One day I was inspired by April of Abbysweets.

She had made the cutest little candy turtles for a bake sale. I commented that they were the cutest little things and a conversation began. She told me about a place where she gets some of her molds. Country Kitchen SweetArt So as I was checking out the site, and I came across chocolate transfer sheets. I always wondered how those expensive chocolates with the cool designs did it. Well, come to find out, it is super easy. So I ordered five different sheets and began planning Christmas truffles. I also used Aprils recipe for Coconut Joys.
Only I dipped mine instead of drizzling chocolate over them. And because I used the transfer sheets to decorate, I had to flatten the top of my truffles.
These set up really nice and were easy to dip. I just rolled them, flattened the top with the bottom of a glass, and let them set up in the fridge. Dipped them in chocolate, placed a piece of transfer sheet on top, and let them set up again. Pull of the transfer sheet and...
DA-Dah! Like magic!
Look how cute. I'm so excited they turned out so well! They are excellent in taste and appearance if I may say so myself.
My daughter gave me an A+ on the coconut ones. I didn't fare so well with the next flavor in her opinion. But I absolutely loved them. Stay tuned for part two! Chocolate Chipotly Cinnamon Truffle.

So a great big Thank You to April for your friendship, conversation, and the great link to Country Kitchen SweetArt!
This one is for you! Enjoy!



Friday, December 14, 2007

Grandmas cookin!

Ohhh, one more day and my temporary job is over! Kudos to all working mothers. I haven't had a real job since my 12 year old was born. Yes, I do help out at our music store but I pretty much call the hours. As long as the work gets done, I'm o.k.
My mother-in-law came this last week for my daughters violin recital. No, no, my mother-in-law is a good mother-in-law. It's a good thing! She has been such a help to me. She's helped me keep up with everything this busy week. Laundry switched over and folded. She took a broom to my dirty floor. Dinner cooked and dishes done. (Yes, I helped. I'm not a total schmuck.)
It was so nice to pull in the garage, get out of the car, and the aroma of a home cooked dinner came drifting out to greet me. Ohh, what a greeting!

She tried a new recipe from a cooking light magazine. Orange-Ginger Skillet Chicken. This was so good. This is a picture of the chicken mixture that you toss into the pasta. Everyone was so hungry, I only got the one picture. This is definitely a keeper and I highly recommend you try it. Its fast, easy and very tasty. Everyone liked it from young to old! That's pretty darn good, wouldn't you agree? And for dessert? Chocolate Pudding Cake! Also from cooking light. Warm and gooey. and she made it in my dutch oven so it looks so rustic. This would be good to make when camping. But we'll save that recipe for another day.

Orange-Ginger Skillet Chicken

By Cooking Light
1 cup orange sections-chopped
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons grated ginger1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 1/2 lb chicken tenders
8 cups cooked rotini pasta-cooked(about 1 lb uncooked)

1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a large zip lock bag.
2. Add chicken and marinate for up to 3 hours.
3. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add chicken mixture.
cook 15 minutes.
4. Add cooked pasta and simmer 5 minutes or till heated through.

Yield: 6 servings



Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas Truffles?

I promised you a new, and much anticipated recipe. Well, its new to me . This year is a truffle kind of Christmas. No, I don't mean the ugly, expensive, fungus kind of Christmas. I mean the sweet beautiful, chocolate, kind of Christmas. Only kids get store bought presents. Unless I can find a Wii for my husband, the only shopping done is for kids. All friends and family members are getting home-made gifts. Mostly truffles!

Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Chipotly Truffles'

White Chocolate dipped Eggnog Truffles,

Peanut Butter with chunks of Butterfingers Truffle,

Coconut dipped in Milk Chocolate Truffles

and Creamy Dreamy Mint Truffles.

Are you drooling yet? Go ahead and wipe up the keyboard. I'll wait.

Done? O.K. Back to this new recipe! Well, its new to me. And much anticipated. Oh...did I say that already? Anyway, all this planning to make truffles has got my juices flowing. For a truffle. But I don't want to make them just yet. Not till Christmas gets closer.

So... I made, are you ready?

Chocolate Truffle Cookies!

They have a crisp shell with a creamy center, thanks to the addition of chocolate chips. It truly reminds me of a decadent chocolate truffle. And this baby has it all.
Bittersweet chocolate
Semisweet chocolate
and cocoa!
Did I say it was decadent?

This is my submission to foodblogga's Eat Christmas cookies food event. Go here to see all the cookies and be sure to come back and vote for your favorite cookie!

This cookie would make a perfect addition to your holiday!

This recipe came from the 1999 Taste Of Home Annual Recipe Cookbook.

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

4 squares (1 oz each) unsweetened chocolate

2cups (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

1/3 cup butter

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup flour

2 tablespoons baking cocoa

1/4 baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a microwave, melt unsweetened chocolate,1 cup chocolate chips, and butter. Cool 10 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, beat sugar and eggs for 2 minutes.Beat in vanilla and the chocolate mixture. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat in chocolate mixture. Stir in remaining chocolate chips. Cover and Chill for at least 3 hours. Remove 1 cup of dough. With floured hands, roll into 1 inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets . Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly puffed and set. Cool for 3-4 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Dust with powdered sugar. Yield: about 4 dozen



Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Quick Hello!

Its the busiest time of the year!

And this year I really mean it!

I'm working for two weeks at a friends furniture store! So I cleared my calender so I could work 6 days a week. That changes my world. Temporarily at least.

No time to bake. Dinner is in the crockpot. Just through in some ribs and turned on low. Nothing exciting there.

Being gone all day leaves the rest of life to happen in the evening. Last nigh Kel had a violin performance so we dashed off to go get in the holiday spirit. It was a nice evening but we didn't get home till 8. Although I really, really want to make a special *new* recipe, I wasn't going to start a project at 8. I was tired.

Hopefully, tonight, I will find a window of opportunity, to make the much anticipated recipe. So stay tuned!

Hows your week going?


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Grand Opening

I would like to introduce you to a new blog.
It's all about Coffee and Tea!

As of December 1st, Kettle and Cup has opened its doors in a grand fashion.

Marye, our awe-inspiring Hostess is having a Grand Opening and there will be plenty of hospitality.

Please stop by and say "Hi"

Tell her megan sent ya!